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Respir Care. 2003 Jan;48(1):24-8.

A comparison of the therapeutic effectiveness of and preference for postural drainage and percussion, intrapulmonary percussive ventilation, and high-frequency chest wall compression in hospitalized cystic fibrosis patients.

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Respiratory Therapy Division, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.



Cystic fibrosis (CF) patients have abnormally viscid bronchial secretions that cause airway obstruction, inflammation, and infection that leads to lung damage. To enhance airway clearance and reduce airway obstruction, daily bronchopulmonary hygiene therapy is considered essential.


Compare the effectiveness of and patient preferences regarding 3 airway clearance methods: postural drainage and percussion (PD&P), intrapulmonary percussive ventilation (IPV), and high-frequency chest wall compression (HFCWC).


The participants were hospitalized CF patients >or= 12 years old. Effectiveness was evaluated by measuring the wet and dry weights of sputum obtained with each method. In random order, each patient received 2 consecutive days of each therapy, delivered 3 times daily for 30 minutes. Sputum was collected during and for 15 minutes after each treatment, weighed wet, then dried and weighed again. Participants rated their preferences using a Likert-type scale. Mean weights and preferences were compared using analysis of variance with repeated measures. Patient preferences were compared using Freidman's test.


Twenty-four patients were studied. The mean +/- SD wet sputum weights were 5.53 +/- 5.69 g with PD&P, 6.84 +/- 5.41 g with IPV, and 4.77 +/- 3.29 g with HFCWC. The mean wet sputum weights differed significantly (p = 0.035). Wet sputum weights from IPV were significantly greater than those from HFCWC (p < 0.05). The mean dry sputum weights were not significantly different. With regard to overall preference and to the subcomponents of preference, none of the 3 methods was preferred over the others.


HFCWC and IPV are at least as effective as vigorous, professionally administered PD&P for hospitalized CF patients, and the 3 modalities were equally acceptable to them. A hospitalized CF patient should try each therapy and choose his or her preferred modality.

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